Twenty-something male, slumped on couch: Hey.
Me: Hi. Where are you?
West coast of the world? I'm not in US.
Haha. Where u?
This was a typical exchange I had playing Chat Roulette, the latest mind-boggling phenomenon to sweep the internet.
Thanks to its supposed inventor, a 17-year-old Russian, some 20,000 people around the globe are joining a revolving door of face-to-face connections and participating in the internet at its democratic best and seedy worst.
I coerced a friend to log on with me only to find I had more success when seen to be alone. She hovered over my shoulder ready to protect against freaks, an absurd safety-in-numbers policy to confront the fear of the unknown.
For the next two hours we chatted with a room of young Danes eating pizza, a couple of bored French firemen waiting for a job and a string of lone young men, some of whom clearly didn't think Chat Roulette was just for chatting.
The website works like regular chat rooms only your face is automatically beamed via webcam into a random individual's living room or den of iniquity, the unpredictability of which is no doubt fuelling the site's popularity and giving parents a major headache.
Thousands are online at any given time but the connections are singular, one after the other. If you don't like who you're paired with, you hit Next. As easy as that sounds, it does take some getting used to when it happens to you.
The Danes, for example. No sooner had we bonded over takeaway options available in our respective countries, they hit Next. We felt slightly crushed. Same thing during a rare connection with another couple of females.
"Phew," we wrote. Then naively, snobbishly, "You're like us!"
They grinned, nodded and hit Next.
Human connections always start with first impressions - in the world of Chat Roulette they are boiled down to a sort of ADD mentality. Bored with Hong Kong girl? Next. Don't like guys with goatees? Next. We didn't know who or what we were looking for, which is part of the fun.
But we soon discovered what we weren't looking for. Chat Roulette is like the latest street drug: accessible, alluring but peddled by untrustworthy characters.
There's the danger someone could take a screen grab of you watching something you shouldn't be. Or that the silly among us could be coaxed into giving away personal details. On the other hand, its random nature, like a human poker machine, is a thrill.
It seems ludicrous the majority of chatters are quite happy to be videoed for the awkward occasion but few choose to switch their audio on. It's one last bastion of dignity I suppose. You can easily spot the online ingenues like us, who laughed and typed things like, "OMG, did you just see 7-foot Elvis and girl painting the floor?"
"No, but did you see the monks making margaritas?"
Then there were the young men who looked like they hadn't slept for days, arms propped on elbows as though each link gave them the will to stay up for another 24 hours.
As we progressed through our personal United Nations, dominated by Americans who, geographically speaking, lived not in the wider world, and French people who spoke little English (we tried chatting in French which was harder in writing), we wondered if there was much merit to the exercise.
It's like wading through a crowd at a party. At first, you just want to get a feel for the social landscape before you commit to talking to the guy next to the punch. Which someone has laced. When you do, it's mostly small talk.
But it soon became addictive hitting Next: who might we see? Apparently Ashton Kutcher has been spotted, not that he had any bearing on us trying it. While most connections were fairly mundane, we had a good laugh at the Japanese sisters hooning past the camera on rollerskates, and the apron-wearing young man having the time of his life being Nigella Lawson, although there wasn't much time for chatting as he spooned little mounds of dough on to his baking tray.
I guess, for the lonely, there's the potential of being on the cusp of some great international romance, one which, if contact details were not exchanged in time, could tragically vanish with a power cut (or the appearance of one's spouse in the doorway behind them.)
Or maybe you'll connect with someone so amazing you just have to fly them to where you are, as NZ-based Yogi Bear actor T. J. Miller did when he befriended two Liverpudlians on the site.
Mostly though, the hours consisted of fleeting, surface chats of little substance. The longest conversation I had was with a Brown University student who gave fascinating insights into the world of the Ivy League.
If only I'd stopped there. Next was a guy with a cardboard phallus taped to his forehead. Next, Next, Next.
Twenty-something male, slumped on couch: Hey.